July 3, 2003 at 11:26 a.m.
I have never classified myself as a die hard golfer. I, like most people, just enjoy being on the course. Although important, my score is number two on my priority list behind having fun. I will rate the courses according to the casual scale. Golfing for the more competitive ball strikes, the Press has enlisted the services of a golf pro (two handicap) to rate the course for the serious golfers. For anonymity reasons, we will refer to him as “Mr. X”, after all, knowing his identity could compromise the experience. Hopefully our tips and mistakes will lead to lower scores for you.
Stop Number Three:
Falcon Ridge Golf Course- Back 9
Stop number three on our “On the Green” adventure was Falcon Ridge Golf Course. This mammoth 18 hole course is paired with a par three course as well, making it almost impossible to grade the entire course all in one day. So, in order to give it the attention it deserves, Mr. X and I decided to golf and grade the back nine this week, the front nine will follow next week.
The two sides, the front and back, are almost as opposite as you can get. On the front side, the holes are long and the fairways are wide. Meanwhile, the back nine brings an entirely different brand of golf. The holes are filled with doglegs making almost every hole shorter, leaving the fairways much more narrow. In other words, in order to score low on the back, you have to play position golf like never before.
The back nine has two holes where you can let it rip, one at the start and the other at the end. Hole 10 is a long 481 yard par 5 with two streams placed across the fairway. Even though it is rated as the fourth hardest hole on the course, it’s a nice break before you move into the thick brush called the back nine. After a poor drive off the tee box and my approach landing in the drink, I started my round with a double bogey.
Next up is the par three 11th, one of two par threes on the back nine. Spread out over 213 yards, the par three is long with a slight dogleg to the right. Also stacked on the right side are a few trees. Standing at the tee box, you get an idea to drive over the trees, heading straight for the green. I thought that. One drive off the trunk of a tree followed by a chip to safety left me with another double bogey, finishing with a hard fought five.
Believe it or not, as the play got harder, my play got stronger. The reason is simple. Holes 12-17 are short, but difficult because of the doglegs. Good golfers would never think about pulling out a driver because it’s easy to shoot yourself right over the fairway and into the woods. I, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about distance as much. A good tee shot with a 5 wood for me is roughly 200 yards. On many of these holes, a straight 200 yard drive is a perfect play. Again, position golf is the key to scoring low on the back nine. Whether I planned it or not, I was positioning myself well.
Holes 12, 13 and 14 greeted me with bogeys, after all, I said I was playing well according to my standards. Expecting to par every hole is still years away for my skill level. The game plan is the same for each of those holes, simply to play smart. Club selection is another key on the back nine. Fortunately, I have a golf pro at my disposal so picking the right club usually isn’t much of a problem.
After the par three fifteenth, the easiest hole on the course, it was more of the same on 16 and 17. Both holes were par four, and both were short, measuring out under 300 yards. Rated as the second hardest hole on the course, 16 doglegs to the right at around the 150 yard marker. Not only do you have to worry about placing your drive, the right side of the fairway is all woods which is an intimidating sight. The thought of “staying left” was too much for me as I pulled my head on the tee box, sending my Titleist into the woods where it will never be found. Yes, 16 presents some challenges. Still, I walked to the next tee box with a bogey.
Seventeen is just as far as 16 but the dogleg goes left and the fairway is more wide open. A good drive off the tee box with my 5-wood left me staring straight at the green, roughly 110 yards out. This hole is one of the easiest when it comes to positioning yourself on the fairway because of the extra room down the sides. One good chip later, I finally got my par. Golfers make a mental note, 17 is doable.
The course finishes the back nine like it starts it, with a wide open par five. Eighteen is the third longest hole on the course. Two water hazards on the right as well as a creek across the fairway makes it impossible for you to lose your focus. Two good drives a chip later, I was on the green. However, the feeling turned from joy to disgust as I three putted the hole. The greens were solid throughout the round with a nice bend to them. They were in great condition, a testament to the grounds crew considering the course had close to a foot of rain the day before. My six put me at 46 for the round, 10 over par, or if you want to look at it another way, right on target if you’re playing bogey golf.
(1-5 with 5 being the hardest)
For me, the back nine was so difficult that I really didn’t notice the greens as much as I normally do. I was too worried about just getting the ball to the green. I think that shows the balance of this course. Everything was challenging across the board. I give it a three and half, but like I said, I probably would rate the greens harder if I remembered them.
Absolutely. To me, position golf means that if your ball is out of position, most likely you’ve come into contact with a hazard. In this case, trees, and lots of them. The fairways are narrow on the back side which gave me a claustrophobic feeling. In my opinion, when it comes to trouble spots, this is the best one I’ve golfed yet.
Even though it has nothing to do with the course, the day we were there, the bugs were out in full force. As I noted earlier, we happened to golf the day it rained, thus waking every bug up in the 10 mile radius. The course is beautiful, the only advice I have is if you’re golfing when it’s wet, bring the bug spray and a lot of it.
For my skill level, this course was extremely tough, However, golfing it helped my game a great deal. It forced to me to play smart and learn what clubs work in what situations.
I loved the course. I can’t wait to dial up the front side.
Golfing with Mr. X
We’ve talked about position golf before, but with this course, in order to score well on the back nine, it’s a necessity. There are a lot of doglegs and the only way you can approach them is with a simple game-plan. Seven out of the nine holes, you want to use your irons to score low. The fairways are narrow so your irons will give you your best chance at scoring low.
I think another thing that this course makes you do is take chances. You look at the scorecard and see that the holes are short. Pretty soon, you start to get a little cocky and that makes you take some chances. On the back nine, if you take chances like trying to drive over a tree, sooner or later you’re going to get hurt.
The greens were nice. They were challenging because they weren’t real big. Also, there is not a lot of room behind the greens so you can’t over shoot your target.
It’s a great course for average to above average golfers.
(1-5 with 5 being the hardest)
Hardest Holes- Back Nine:
#11- Long par three
#16- Par four with sharp dogleg to the right. At the same time, you need to stay left to avoid the trees.